San Francisco

Raymond Howell

Galerie de Tours

Raymond Howell has developed a new method of painting in low relief using gauze fabrics, plastics and paint. The subject matter is sombre, tragic or sometimes sinister: death heads, a wraith in golden helmet with a wooden sword collaged into the picture, a whole charnel house of grotesque nudes; even one of the apparently more innocent pictures, Two Sisters, little girls in ballet costumes, has a mask quality with dark holes for eyes. His Cock Fight is not between roosters as we know them, but huge primeval fowl; Shopping News has a newspaper col­lage background for manikins with masklike heads but garbed in a heavy impasto of orange paint. There is one abstraction in this group which has obviously grown out of an effort to use the material for its implicit qualities­––the stretchiness of stocking silk, etc., and the relief pieces tend more in ab­stract directions and veiled symbolisms than Howell’s other paintings, but his clear dedication is to realistic subject matter. This exhibition also contains a quantity of paintings in at least three other distinct styles, all frankly imita­tive of well known social-conscious real­ists of the 30’s and early 40’s. Though these are painted with considerable flu­ency, the show would have been more satisfactory without them.

Knute Stiles